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 Jonath­an Crayford

Dark Light

(Rattle Records)

Dark LightRecor­ded in New York City last year, Dark Light sees nomad­ic New Zea­l­and pian­ist Jonath­an Cray­ford play­ing along­side Ben Street (bass) and Dan Weiss (drums), two of the most tal­en­ted and in-demand mem­bers of the new gen­er­a­tion of jazz musi­cians oper­at­ing in the Big Apple.

Riddled with dark, brood­ing mys­tery, it’s a beau­ti­fully played and recor­ded cycle of moody pieces explor­ing the concept of the mys­ter­i­ous place behind the light. Of par­tic­u­lar note is ‘Galois’ Candle’, a song Jonath­an cre­ated to express feel­ings asso­ci­ated with the sad story of math­em­atician Évariste Galois (1811–32). After lay­ing the found­a­tions for Galois the­ory and group the­ory, the French­man died in a duel.

While Galois’ work wasn’t prop­erly recog­nised until the 20th cen­tury, it’s safe to say that in his own time, as his extens­ive work across the globe proves, Jonath­an has def­in­itely been acknowledged.

Through­out the record, Ben and Dan’s rela­tion­ship as a rhythm sec­tion is mas­ter­ful, provid­ing the per­fect sup­port bed for Jonathan’s lyr­ic­al and emotive piano parts. Reveal­ing more on every listen, Dark Light suc­cess­fully rides the line between access­ible and explor­at­ory. It’s music you’ll feel first, but think about later. Yet more excel­lent work from one of our truly sin­gu­lar jazz figures.

Alex­is French

The Cut

(Rattle Records)

The CutCol­oured by a palette heavy with the influ­ence of mid-1950s to early 1960s Amer­ic­an jazz music, The Cut is the most recent album-length offer­ing from Wel­ling­ton-based trum­pet play­er and com­poser Alex­is French.

Recor­ded between McGill Uni­ver­sity and Stu­dio A in Montreal, Canada, while Alex­is was study­ing towards a Master’s degree at the former’s Schu­lich School of Music, the eight-song record sees him com­pos­ing for, and play­ing with­in, a quin­tet also show­cas­ing ten­or sax­o­phone, gui­tar, bass and drums. While it might not move the con­ver­sa­tion for­ward, it’s an easy and enjoy­able listen on these cold winter nights.




(Rattle Records)

DogBring­ing togeth­er four of the big dogs of jazz edu­ca­tion and live per­form­ance in Auck­land, Dog is the debut album from the quar­tet of the same name. With Kev­in Field on piano, Ron Sam­som on sax/drums, Olivi­er Hol­land on bass, and Roger Man­ins on drums/sax over its ten-song run­ning time, we’re treated to a fas­cin­at­ingly intric­ate and emotive jour­ney through sound.

Draped in hip-hug­ging grooves and nat­ur­al­ist­ic water-droplet melod­ies, Dog takes things well bey­ond stand­ard. For the explor­at­ory ears out there, it’s a pretty good way to spend just over an hour. Those sax­o­phone lines are fiery fierce.




(Rattle Records)

UmLean­ing on the heft and dynam­ic of 1970s jazz fusion, yeahyeahab­so­lutelyno­way! is a fun for­ay into the col­lect­ive sound-worlds of Adelaide-based trio Um.. The col­lect­ive pro­ject of James Brown, Sam Cag­ney (both on guitar/effects) and Steph­en Neville, its medi­um- to long-form songs ripple and twirl with beau­ti­ful playing.

Rising and fall­ing from val­ley to peak and back again, shades of rock, spa­ghetti west­ern soundtrack com­pos­i­tion, funk and ambi­ent are evid­ent from start to fin­ish. If you’re a fan of gui­tar albums that play smart (but not too smart), this is one to drift away with. Poised yet vibrant work indeed.

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